Ray Merriweather has been suffering from multiple sclerosis since 2001. This inflammatory disease, which has no cure or effective treatment, afflicts Merriweather with lesions on his spinal cord and brain and has partially disabled the right side of his body.
Despite the potentially debilitating effects of the damage multiple sclerosis has wrought upon him, Merriweather's speech is completely coherent and he is still able to run, bike, and walk his dog even though he refuses to take doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals. Merriweather attributes his good health and quality of life, which baffles his neurologists, to the medical marijuana he is legally able to purchase as a resident of Colorado. For Merriweather and many Coloradans like him, medical marijuana is more than just a form of treatment - it gives him his life back.
Tim Timmons, a resident of Texas, is also afflicted by multiple sclerosis. Timmons' motor functions are seriously impaired, leaving him confined to bed or a wheelchair, and excruciating pain makes sleep difficult.
Unlike Merriweather, Timmons resides in a state that has not legalized medical marijuana and adequate treatment is thus hard for him to come by. The severity of Timmons' symptoms force him to take over a dozen pills every day. Many of these drugs have adverse side-effects, like vivid and frightening hallucinations, which severely reduce his quality of life. Timmons has found medical marijuana to be the most effective treatment for his multiple sclerosis but, because of Texas' medical marijuana policies, he breaks the law every time he seeks to ease his own suffering.
The experiences of Merriweather and Timmons, and the thousands of other Americans who benefit greatly from medical marijuana, have convinced the Universal Life Church Monastery that those who suffer from maladies like multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV, and Crohn's disease deserve this natural form of treatment that eases their pain and helps increase their quality of life far better than pharmaceuticals do. The ULC Monastery sees no societal danger in allowing men and women who are suffering from debilitating diseases to undergo medical marijuana therapy in the privacy of their own homes.
Marijuana's Schedule I classification, which states that it is dangerous and has no medicinal value, must be updated in order for medical marijuana treatment to become available across the country. The Universal Life Church Monastery sees Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit organization based in Oakland, CA, as America's best hope for making this happen. They are currently embroiled in the tenth year of Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit whose ruling could permanently change the federal government's outlook on medical marijuana.
The importance of this case was summarized succinctly by ASA's legal counsel: "What is at stake in this case is nothing less than our country's scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients."
Universal Life Church ministers can help ASA and the medical marijuana cause today by joining Camp WakeUpObama, a series of pro patients' rights activities created by the ASA and designed to increase medical marijuana's standing in Washington, DC.
Stay tuned for further updates regarding the ULC's partnership with the ASA, announcements concerning ASA v. DEA, and tips on what ULC ministers can do to help legalize medical marijuana.